Meet your mixologist: Ray Scholz

About the series: In a saloon town such as San Francisco, the bartender plays a crucial role. Confessor, friend, sounding board — the man or woman behind the plank sees to it that our needs are met with elegance, grace and often wit. They see humanity at its best and most convivial, but also offer a nod and a welcome to the lonely. But what do they see when they look at us? What are the tricks of their trade? And what lessons have they learned along the way? In this Examiner weekly feature, we talk to some of our local bartenders to find out.

Two

22 Hawthorne St., S.F.

(415) 777-9779; www.two-sf.com

Don’t be confused. If you’ve walked into the restaurant Two lately and wondered why it seems a lot like its predecessor, Hawthorne Lane, it’s because it has the same owners, chef and staff. The established eatery had a little makeover to make it less uptown and more downtown, and we approve. We took a seat at the bar and made friends with Ray Scholz, who has been with the crew at 22 Hawthorne St. for eight years.

Tell us about the changes here at Two. It was actually a little nerve-racking. Hawthorne Lane was more formal, more of a special-occasion restaurant. David Gingrass [the restaurant’s owner] was concerned people were thinking of it that way. So he decided to get more casual. The prices went down. We redecorated.

How has the clientele responded? From the very first night we opened the doors, we had a lot of people. It was a younger crowd and more residential, but the restaurant has been really well-received. We still have our regulars, too.

What’s the most popular drink you serve? The Royal Hound.

What’s the most unusual drink? The Cilantro Martini. It’s a little gin, vodka, cilantro leaves, fresh lime and ginger. It was featured last year in Food and Wine magazine. Also the Galanga Gimlet. Galanga is a Thai ginger. It’s an infusion of galanga, lemon grass and kaffir leaves.

How’d you get into this business? I’m an artist … a painter, and I moved to New York just like everyone else in art school. Then I waited tables and transitioned to bartending because I am a lousy waiter. I started in New York, then Santa Fe, then here.

Where were you working in New York? Pesca. It was the first of the really neighborhood restaurants, but very elegant. It was an all-fish restaurant. We had a dish of Dover sole, and you know Dover sole, it has a lot of bones in it. Well, I had this one table that left the bones all over the tablecloth. When I cleared their table, I took everything off the table except for the bones. The guy finally said, “Would you take these bones off of the table?” I said, “No. If you put the bones on the plate, I will take them off the table.” My boss said, “I should fire you, but how would you like to tend the bar?”

You said you are an artist. What kind of art do you do? Abstract works. … I’ve had shows since I moved out here. But [Two] is a very social bar and a lot of people come in and still come in and we talk and they know about my art. A good 60 percent of work that I’ve sold is through people here at the bar.

Recommend a good exhibit to check out this weekend. Go see Brice Marden and the Picasso exhibit at the SFMOMA.

Featured Recipe

The Royal Hound

» ¼ muddled Ruby Grapefruit with ice

» Equal parts Ketel One vodka and Cointreau

» A touch of simple syrup (cuts the bitterness of the grapefruit)

» Take a chilled martini glass and rim it with candied grapefruit and sugar. Top off with champagne and garnish with a wedge of grapefruit.

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